Sunday, May 3, 2009

First Stop: Belfast

I'm here!  Ok, so I've been here in Belfast for awhile, and I'm just now blogging.  Falling down on the job, I suppose.

This will (hopefully) be the dumbest thing I will ever say in this blog, but Ireland is so... green. Yes, I assumed that Ireland was not called the Emerald Isle for nothing, but as I looked out the window from the plane onto the landscape below, I only had one intelligent (or not so intelligent) thought "Wow.  Green."

I'm staying at the Europa Hotel, which has the distinction of being the most bombed hotel in Europe, as it was bombed 33 times by the IRA between 1972 and 1994.  In 1995 and 1998, President Clinton stayed at the Europa as a symbolic showing of sorts, signifying a change.

Its history aside, the Europa has been great - centrally located in Belfast within easy walking distance to many of the sights like Belfast's City Hall and situated next door to the Grand Opera House. The Europa is also just around the block from the bus and train station (I took the bus from the airport and am taking a train tomorrow to Dublin), so it's very convenient.

My real purpose in coming to Belfast has been to spend time with relatives.  Roy Garland and his wife, Marion, have been showing me around Belfast and the surrounding countryside of both Northern Ireland and Ireland.  Not only have they been educating me on the history of Northern Ireland and Ireland, but they have also been informing me about Garland family history.  And even beyond all of that, it has been fascinating to spend so much time with two locals - getting their take on everything from the culture to what they think about President Obama.  (FYI - they seem to like him but said many people here are cautious in making a judgment call.)

I had a couple of friends ask me to blog about what I'm wearing on the trip.  Nothing exciting as of yet, though that will change - especially once I do a little shopping next week in London.  It's chilly here (highs in the mid 50s, low in the 40s), so I'm in jeans, boots, jackets.  One of the things I've noticed is the way that teenagers dress.  80s fashion seem to be really in here - the clothes and the hair alike.  I've been so tempted to take pictures of a few of them a la The Satorialist, but I'm not that brave yet.

More to come on Belfast...    

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